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Des Plaines alderman: Say 'no' to video gambling
By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/2/2009 12:05 AM

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Des Plaines 3rd Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz urged the city council Monday night to strongly oppose video gambling machines in town because they would hurt the city's planned casino.

The new video poker legislation, approved by the Illinois House and Senate but not yet signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, could put more than 45,000 such devices in establishments across the state. It would allow every licensed liquor establishment - including restaurants, bars, truck stops, fraternal clubs or veterans' clubs - to have any type of video gambling, including slot machines.

City councils and village boards would have the option to ban them within their municipal boundaries.

"We need to be on the forefront of opposing gaming expansion," Bogusz said. "The last city council said, 'I want a casino, and I want it because of the projected revenues.' This expansion threatens that revenue stream."

The casino is targeted for 21 acres at the northwest corner of River Road and Devon Avenue fronting the Tri-State Tollway. It is scheduled to open in spring 2011.

The city's share of casino revenues, as well as associated tax revenues, is projected to be roughly $10 million per year.

City officials have repeatedly pledged they would use that money to upgrade infrastructure such as sewers, sidewalks and streets, to help pay down debt and to defer any future property tax increases.

"We will not be able to deliver on that promise if we sit idly by and allow gaming to expand," Bogusz said. "We owe it to our residents to try and protect that projected revenue."

Bogusz said city leaders should directly lobby Quinn to veto the legislation.

The state also has a lot at stake with the legislation. Taxes on gamblers' losses are expected to raise at least $400 million for a $29 billion public works spending plan.

Bogusz's comments come on the heels of 13 suburban mayors who, when polled by the Daily Herald, voiced concerns about the expansion of video poker or slot machines in their communities. More than two dozen more mayors say they have not decided, are leaning in favor or could not yet comment.

Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan said he cannot yet take a position on video gambling, but the city is in the process of formulating its stance, he said.

"We are in the process of gathering all the information of the proposed gaming bill," Moylan said.

City staff members are poring over the almost 280-page proposed legislation, he said.